Grays Harbor’s male and female bowlers have doubled up in a single organization.
The Grays Harbor Women’s Bowling Association disbanded recently, with its members joining the predominantly male Grays Harbor Bowling Association.
Dwindling membership in both groups — the byproduct of a poor local economy and competing activities — was at the root of the merger.
Membership in the women’s group dropped from approximately from 500 to 200 in the past six years, according to former women’s association president Dodie Gerchak. The number of active male bowlers in the county declined from approximately 1,000 to 600 in five years, longtime Grays Harbor Bowling Association President John Stankus said.
“Mainly, the reason the women merged was a lack of membership,” Gerchak said. “(The merger) was something that needed to happen a long time ago.”
In addition, the United States Bowling Congress has encouraged such a change in its nationwide operation.
“They’re trying to get all the men and women to merge,” Stankus said. “And most of them doing it.”
One reason such a change was delayed locally, Stankus added, was Hoquiam had its own bowling association. That ended with the closure of SpareTime Bowl last year.
The merger is expected to produce few changes in the day-to-day bowling operations in the county. The women will continue to stage 400 Club tournaments in Montesano next month and Elma in March.
Women have been eligible to participate in Grays Harbor Bowling Association tournaments in recent years, including the all-county tournament.
Stankus is hopeful of increased female entries in January’s all-county tournament in Westport and the Six-Game Singles Classic in Aberdeen the following month. If not, he added, the organization might be open to sponsoring a women-only tourney.
While the majority of Grays Harbor leagues for both genders have begun play, Stankus and Gerchak said openings remain in most of them.
“We need people who want to join,” Gerchak said. “The majority (of bowlers) are people who just want to have fun and get a little exercise. It’s a good program.”